Tuesday, January 24, 2012

From The Darkness: On Seeking Help

Recently I have read quite a few blogs in which people have opened up about their struggles with feeling overwhelmed or depressed.

I think about this a lot, as I experience the same feelings sometimes. It's optimal to say we are happy, and to stay as positive as possible, but it is also ok to be sad! I am not a huge advocate of saying I am "fine" if I am not, or posting inspirational quotes when I feel like my world is actually caving in. Sometimes in attempting to look at the bright side, we can, in fact, make our mood better. Still, for the most part, if I am having a hard time, I am going to tell you. I don't really think it benefits anyone for me to be dishonest. If you know me well, you have seen that I feel profoundly hopeless and alone on a down day,and yet luckily this doesn't happen too often anymore. I feel genuinely happy more often than not.

One of the darkest hours I remember, though, was when I was at the end of my pregnancy with my third baby. We were already navigating a new autism diagnosis for my oldest child and a food allergy issue for my other son. The baby I was carrying was not moving much at all, and I was horribly sick with a cough that would not go away. My mothering instinct felt that this third baby had special needs, too (and I was right). When I look back on that period, I remember everything being black. That's how depressed I was. Literally, my images are in black and not color, when I reflect upon that time. I think I very much felt like I was standing on the edge of a dark cliff and that life wanted to push me past the edge.

Despite not feeling social at that time plus being busy, I somehow still became interested in a local high functioning autism support group I had heard about. I remember when I spoke to the woman who started the group, she was in awe of me wanting to get involved right before having another baby. In fact, the first meeting we attended was right after he was born. It was one of the best things I ever did, though. Five minutes in the door, and I knew I had found others who understood me. I didn't yet have a good online support system, and none of my current friends' children had special needs. I almost cried in relief to see other kids accepting my oldest son, not to mention that he enjoyed his time, too! I often look back on this and say that it saved my life. Autism is now our normal. I don't need this support group as desperately I once did, but we still go to the meetings and enjoy the sense of belonging. I have also gotten very involved with another organization that helps children with feeding issues. I will be reaching out to this community for a long time to come, utilizing continued positive connections and giving back of my time, too.

What would have happened if I hadn't pushed myself to seek help when I needed it? If you are having a hard time, I urge you to seek support in the area that concerns you most, or to simply pick up the phone and call a friend who will understand. In addition to that, I believe that we benefit no one when we consistently hide our true feelings. It's ok to tell Facebook that you're sad about something. No one likes "negativity," but we do like honesty. Through opening up, help can almost always be found. May your 2012 be filled with love and light.

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